Tuesday, 17 July 2012 02:30
By Tennisha Sebastien
“…We thy sons and daughters stand,
Strong and firm in peace or danger
To safeguard our native land.
We commit ourselves to building
A true nation brave and free
Ever striving, ever seeking
Dwell in love and unity.”
Today, I had occasion to reflect upon the National Anthem of my land as I thought about the current conditions. I tried to look through the eyes of the author to try to visualize what he was seeing as he penned the words of this anthem. I saw his patriotic heart and the passion for a land he believed was worthy of commitment of self and advocacy.
“We thy sons and daughters stand”. “Stand” a word denoting militancy for a nation loved and valued. Then the light bulb came on! The author meant for those that would sing, read, rehearse this anthem to be awakened to the same passion; the same desire of patriotism. I thought to myself, as a carnival queen contestant, I have a duty to perform -- not just for a season, but a lifetime commitment as an ambassador for my land.
I have a responsibility to “To safeguard our native land.” This provoked my spirit and my heart began to burn with a passion to examine myself and my surroundings. I looked deep within to see how I would be able to reach out and make my mark upon the land; to leave an imprint for others to awaken with a passionate desire to commit “to building a true nation brave and free.”
I went on a journey to search out my starting point…Where do I start? What can I do? And then the thought hit me like a ton of bricks. The strength of any nation lies in its ability to cultivate the potential of its youth; to invest in their development and to encourage them to turn their dreams into realities.
“But how can I contribute to this?” I pondered. “Where would I begin?” If I gave a speech, it would provoke the thoughts of my listeners and if I shook hands with everyone I met, it would spark a ray of friendship. But if I gave to others and encouraged others to do the same, it could start a revolution that could transform many lives. I got it! The idea of a charity fundraiser to give to a few of our youth would indeed set me on the right track.
As a young woman of passion and action, I immediately set about to make my thoughts a realty. I began my investigation of the place to start and arrived at the Sunshine Home for Girls, and the Amazing Grace Foundation. I wrote letters to gain the cooperation of those in a position to assist me in making this goal possible, and communicated my awakened passion to others.
My sponsor, Ayoushe Beauty Supplies & Beyond was enthused and in the spirit of support, joined me in this endeavour. I was well on my way. On Friday 6th July 2012, my tent of hope, compassion and legacy was set up at Bargain Center Supermarket at Perry Bay. With the help of a few youth who caught the vision, the wheels were set in motion.
The patrons of Bargain Center Supermarket stopped by the tent to inquire and with smiles; sometimes even the occasional laughter gave a benevolent gift. A can of corned beef exemplifies a ray of hope and a compassionate touch. A tin of Vienna sausage could be scrambled with eggs or added to something else, can extract a satisfied smile and energy to go on. Every gift represented a heart that cares for someone else.
Every smile represented the realisation of the passion of my heart to touch someone else’s life. That smile may have changed someone’s day; perhaps even their life. In exchange they were given a bottle of “Ayoushe Refreshing water for life” as a way of saying, “We think you are special too; thank you.” Yeah! I see it now -- #1 Carnival Queen Contestant equals an ambassador of change. “Yes, that is who I am.”
But wait a minute; hold the phone! “Carnival…” From a historical perspective, Antigua and Barbuda was the first nation in the British Caribbean to abolish slavery, in 1834, so this means the celebration of emancipation from slavery.
Although, it is a time of celebration and fun for natives and visitors alike, my heart is stirred by the enigma of a thought. I need to focus everything that I do as an act to bring about emancipation from some aspect of slavery slavery to wrong thinking, selfishness and other types of social ills that would harm my beautiful Antigua.
I must join the ranks of the emancipators of the past and run with their vision as well as communicate it to others. I must dare to cause others to dream “Ever striving, ever seeking” to give of themselves for the improvement of others. My emancipation proclamation must affect those around me to change and “Dwell in love and unity” something we are to encourage others to do.
Like Martin Luther King, I can say, “I have a dream”; a dream to touch your life and awaken your passion; dreams to revitalize the patriotism of my fellow Antiguans...But why stop there? Let me endeavour to resuscitate the love once shared, where we were our brother’s keeper. When in the days of old your neighbour went to town and left all the windows of her house open and no one would even think to go in.
The days when every youth knew to say, “good morning”, and “good afternoon” when they passed their elders by the way, or “yes sir; no sir” out of respect. The days when the village would care to raise a child and respect for elders was demanded by the switch. Yes! I am looking through the eyes of my patriotic fathers and elders, allowing their passion to stir me into action to let Antigua shine in your heart once again.
The passion with which B.O Breton wrote the first stanza of the Independence song: “Where land and sea make beauty, at the rainbow’s very end, The island of Antigua wants to know what you intend; If you’ll be another lover to be lured to her shore, The promises she’ll give to you will be yours forever more.” Words penned to make an impact today that could change the destiny of those that would take time to reflect or even to examine the reason behind the words/the song...No; not just a song, but the song of Independence and that of the National Anthem.
My life has taken a new direction and my focus has pivoted me into new dimensions. As the #1 contestant, I need to exemplify a catalyst for change. Like a beautiful butterfly emerging from the cocoon in a time of revelry, beauty and splendour; a time of the pulsating rhythm of the music and dance.
The sounds of the drums reverberating in the atmosphere stirring the hearers to respond; the lyrics of the soca that make you want to laugh or scream…in the midst of this all, I have a dream. The star-filled sky over us lightened with beauty and pageantry, as it affects the atmosphere; the bright brilliance of the sun, as revelry takes place in the streets of St. John’s…in the midst of it all, I have a dream.
“A nation to build and a country to mould” -- this is my dream; this is my passion.
In summary, I have made a pledge to touch the lives of everyone that I come into contact with and let the remaining words of the song reflect the motto and the commitment that I now choose to live by. I pledge to “Raise the standard! Raise it boldly! Answer now to duty's call.” I pledge and encourage you to “Gird your loins and join the battle; 'Gainst fear, hate and poverty.” Finally, I shout “God of nations; let Thy blessings fall upon this land of ours.”
I am Tennisha Sebastian, #1 contestant for Queen of Carnival 2012, sponsored by the #1 store in the land for beauty, Ayoushe Beauty Supplies & Beyond Ltd.